The Minoans (Greek: Μινωίτες) were a pre-Hellenic Bronze Age civilization in Crete in the Aegean Sea, flourishing from approximately 2700 to 1450 BC when their culture was superseded by the Mycenaean culture. The Minoans were one of the civilizations that flourished in and around the Mediterranean during the Greek Bronze Age. These civilizations had much contact with each other, making it sometimes difficult to judge the extent to which the Minoans influenced or were influenced by their neighbors. Based on depictions in Minoan art, Minoan culture is often characterized as a matrilinear society centered on goddess worship.
The term “Minoan” was coined by the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans after the mythic “king” Minos, associated with the labyrinth, (which was made by a man) which Evans identified as the site at Knossos. It is possible, though uncertain, that Minos was indeed a term used to identify a specific Minoan ruler. It could also have been used to describe the current ruler of the Minoan civilization. What the Minoans called themselves is unknown, although the Egyptian place name “Keftiu” and the Semitic “Kaftor” or “Caphtor” and “Kaptara” in the Mari archives, both evidently referring to Minoan Crete, are suggestive.